Cars such as the 2002 and 3-series may have contributed to BMW's legendary status, but the company's M performance cars bump that status to epic. The new M5 represents the latest example of a model in which BMW engineers went all out, using the latest technology to make it an untouchable track car.
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The 5-series sedan, on which the M5 is based, uses a somewhat conservative exterior design. The M5 version adds an aggressive air intake below the grille. M5 badges adorn side vents to distinguish the car, but in many respects, the M5 looks like a sleeper.
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LEDs make up the signal lights next to the headlights.
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The M5's engine is an automotive work of art. Using direct injection and two twin scroll turbochargers, it uses BMW's Vanos variable valve timing technology to deliver 560 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque from its 4.4 liters.
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In M5 form, the car loses none of its passenger carrying utility.
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These optional 20-inch wheels come to a stop courtesy of drilled brake rotors with a diameter of 15.7 inches.
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The M5 not only uses an adaptive suspension, but a variety of other road-holding technology, contributing to amazing handling.
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Fully functional quad pipes stick out of the back of the M5.
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The trunk is very roomy and would easily hold a couple's luggage for a long road trip.
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The power adjustable front seats have sport bolsters, but they are not too prominent, making it easy to get in and out of the M5.
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This car came equipped with the Executive package, which added rear-seat climate control.
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BMW's design philosophy tends toward simplicity, keeping the cabin controls minimal. However, the sport controls in the M5 add some clutter.
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Drivers can change the steering wheel response at the push of a button.
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This new M5 actually has two M buttons, programmable with different performance profiles.
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The right side of the steering wheel holds the infotainment controls and the upshift paddle.
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This screen in iDrive lets you program each M button for different driving profiles.
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Despite additions here and there, BMW maintains simple analog gauges for speedometer and tachometer.
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The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) comes standard on the M5, although buyers can opt for a manual at no cost. But the DCT does the best job keeping up with the fast-revving engine.
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A number of driver assistance systems are available; they can be switched on or off with these buttons. This M5 came with lane departure warning, a head-up display, and collision warning.
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The head-up display is extremely useful, not only showing speed but also route guidance on the windshield.
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The front split-view camera makes pulling out of blind alleys potentially safer.
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This top-down camera view can aid parking in tight garages.
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The rear-view camera shows distance and trajectory lines.
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The maps in the navigation system show 3D-rendered buildings in some downtown areas.
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Zoom the maps out to a 1-mile scale, and they change to satellite imagery.
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Using the iDrive interface to enter addresses can be tedious; voice command works much better.
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The Bluetooth phone system shows a paired phone's contact list, and includes a manual dialing interface. This system can also read incoming text messages from some phones.
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The Browse Directory option makes selecting music much easier than in BMW's prior music library interface.
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When playing music from a USB drive or iPod, the system will show cover art when it is available.
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The Bluetooth streaming music interface shows information about the current track.
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Satellite radio has a time-shift feature, which lets you pause playback so as not to miss a program during stops for gas or food.
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The audio settings not only include simple bass and treble adjustments, but there is also a seven-band equalizer, which lets you fine-tune the sound.
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The Bang & Olufsen audio system is an expensive option at $3,700, but it is also one of the best-sounding audio systems available in a production car.
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